Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a wife, homeschooling mom of four, attorney, Purdue University lecturer, and best-selling author. I love what I do!
How did you get started writing Christian fiction?
I’ve always wanted to write. I started when I was 14 and then started college. School, marriage, and life sidelined the dream, but it percolated periodically. Then in 2005, I attended a booksigning where my new favorite author was signing. My husband told Colleen Coble that I wanted to be a writer, and the rest is history. Colleen has been my cheerleader and advocate since.
What inspired your interest in writing Shadowed by Grace?
In July 2010 I walked by a display at our local library that had a new non-fiction book cover out. The photo on the front piqued my interest: a clearly WWII soldier standing with a large painting. The stories I read in Monuments Men intrigued me and made me want to learn more. Before long, characters and story ideas filled my mind and I began fleshing out the story that became Shadowed by Grace.
How did you come up with the concept for Shadowed by Grace?
The idea of an elite, tiny group of soldiers who were tasked with saving Western civilization in the face of the first war that involved constant aerial bombardment fascinated me. I wondered what challenges they would face. Then I started looking for unique roles American women filled on the European front. Shadowed by Grace, Rachel Justice and Scott Lindstrom were born.
How much of Shadowed by Grace is factual?
As much of it as I could recreate while still keeping it page turning. I relied on numerous nonfiction resources. But the best resource I found was Florentine Art Under Fire written by Frederick Hartt, one of the Monument’s Men stationed in Italy. He published it in 1949, and I relied on it heavily to get the timeline for the last third of the book as accurate as possible. I also learned how the Monuments Men responded to the devastation in Florence. But many other books added color to the novel. For example, from Assignment to Hell, I learned how the newsroom in Rome responded to the word that Normandy had been invaded. That’s in a scene with Rachel, who is a war photo-journalist. Because more people will read fiction than non-fiction, I strive to make my novels as true to what happened as possible.
How closely is Shadowed by Grace based on your life experiences?
There’s a piece of me in all of my books, but there’s probably less than in many other books. Unlike Rachel Justice, I grew up with a father who loves me deeply. Because of that I’ve never struggled to see God as my Father. Unlike Scott, I didn’t develop an appreciation for art until I was forced to take a class in college. But like him, I am passionate about that subject now.
How long did Shadowed by Grace take you to complete?
I developed the idea in summer of 2010 and started talking to editors about the story in fall 2010. I received the contract for the book in late summer 2012, and then dove back into the research. I wrote it in the winter and early spring of 2013. It’s been a challenging story to write, but one I loved crafting. It’s so exciting to see it coming into print.
Do you have a favorite character in Shadowed by Grace? Why?
Rachel Justice is special. She’s willing to do anything to try to save her mother. Even talk her way into Italy during a war time to find the father she’s never known. I hope I’d have that kind of spunk and determination to save the ones I love.